Some Volvo mechanics are making house calls.
For the past several months, four U.S. Volvo dealerships have sent service technicians to customers' homes and workplaces for minor jobs, such as repairing door handles or replacing broken keys. Customers still must bring their vehicles to the dealership for bigger repairs.
Volvo Cars of North America Inc. is trying to boost its dealerships' service and parts business and improve customer relations with its ``Care by Volvo'' program. The goal was to get 20 more of Volvo's 340 U.S. dealerships to participate in the test program by November.
The car company hopes to make the program permanent, although a target date has not been set.
Volvo finished 15th out of 39 brands in the J.D. Power and Associates 2004 Customer Satisfaction Index. Although Volvo scored above the industry average, it dropped four places from its 2003 rank.
Lincoln took the top spot this year. Last year Infiniti ranked first in the survey.
Ken Zitelli, national service manager for Volvo Cars of North America, said a Care by Volvo goal is to reduce the customers' wait time for parts-one of the factors included in the J.D. Power survey. Volvo's average wait time for parts is four days, Mr. Zitelli said.
``About 75 percent of the components customers order can be taken to them,'' he said. ``Having extra technicians on the road will alleviate some of the stress of coming into the facility.''
Each store has one mechanic on the road to make repairs. The dealerships do not charge for the mobile calls.
Boston Volvo Village in Boston participates in the test program. Last year the store's service department took in more than $5 million in service business.
Service Director Carl Pasquarosa said his mobile technicians have serviced about 150 customers within 90 miles of the dealership since the test began.
``Traditionally, our workstation has only been in the dealership,'' he said. ``Now our workstation is where the customer's car sits.''